Sanders v. Foley

In Sanders v. Foley, 190 Ariz. 182, 945 P.2d 1313 (App. 1997) after obtaining a jury verdict in his favor, Sanders filed an application for attorney fees with the trial court. 190 Ariz. at 184, 945 P.2d at 1315. The trial court, however, subsequently entered a judgment in favor of Sanders in accordance with the verdict but did not award him attorney fees, mistakenly stating he had not filed an application for fees. Id. After Sanders submitted a letter to the trial court, including a copy of the application for fees, the court then awarded Sanders attorney fees in a minute entry and filed an amended judgment that included the attorney fee award. Id. at 184-85, 945 P.2d at 1315-16. Thereafter, the Foleys timely filed their notice of appeal from the amended judgment. Id. at 185, 945 P.2d at 1316. Sanders contended the notice of appeal was untimely because it was filed more than thirty days after entry of the original judgment, which did not include a fee award. Id. The Foleys contended their appeal was timely "because the trial court could have treated either Sanders' application for attorneys' fees or his letter . . . as a motion to alter or amend the judgment pursuant to Rule 59(l)," which would extend the time allowed for filing the appeal until thirty days after entry of the amended judgment that included the attorney fee award. 190 Ariz. at 185, 945 P.2d at 1316. Division One of this court stated it "agree[d] with the Foleys" and found they had "timely appealed from the entire amended judgment." Id. at 185-86, 945 P.2d at 1316-17. But the court based that conclusion on its interpreting the trial court's ultimate ruling on Sanders's attorney fee request "as implicitly vacating the original judgment and authorizing an amended judgment with the amount of the attorneys' fees included." Id. at 185, 945 P.2d at 1316. In other words, pursuant to its authority under Rule 59(g), Ariz. R. Civ. P., the trial court "effectively vacated the original judgment." 190 Ariz. at 186, 945 P.2d at 1317.